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Key Takeaways:

  • DBT FAST is a skill that helps individuals develop self-respect.
  • DBT FAST is all about being truthful about problems without compromising one’s values.
  • DBT FAST can be used for communicating with others or dealing with conflict.

In life, there are always situations that call for maintaining respect for others. Sometimes, however, we forget how to maintain respect for ourselves when we try to ask for something we want or face a conflict. DBT FAST is an interpersonal effectiveness skill that teaches you how to get what you need from your relationships while still maintaining self-respect and respect for others and without sacrificing your own values. Here’s everything you need to know about this DBT interpersonal skill.

What is the DBT FAST Skill?

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, FAST is an acronym that helps an individual develop self-respect effectiveness. DBT FAST allows you to maintain self-respect in your personal interactions. It involves being truthful about problems without compromising your values or integrity. This skill teaches you to communicate more effectively and negotiate more successfully.

Here are the four steps of the DBT FAST skill:

F - be FAIR

When describing any situation and stating your objective, it is best to be fair. This means considering the other person’s needs and wants along with your own. Being fair also means sticking to the facts. It is important to remember to be fair to yourself as well; try to avoid skewing the situation and deprecating yourself to accommodate everybody else’s needs first.

A - don’t over APOLOGIZE

This step in DBT FAST doesn’t mean never apologizing when you have to. Rather, it encourages not apologizing excessively when you don’t have to. Being assertive and asking for what you need or want is not a reason to apologize. You also don’t need to apologize for feeling the way you feel or having a different point of view.

Remember that apologizing implies you are in the wrong. If you are not in the wrong yet keep apologizing, then it will negatively impact your sense of effectiveness and minimize your own self-respect.

S- STICK to your values

When you ask for what you need and want, it can sometimes feel scary. You may even feel that the other person will stop liking you if you do this. While this is often not the case, it is still better to stick to your values rather than getting sucked into agreeing with something you don’t believe in out of fear. Confidently stick to your truth and recognize that your values and morals are not up for debate. Compromising them for the other person will only hurt you more in the long run.


To maintain self-respect, always be truthful. Stick to the facts and avoid exaggerating. When you keep up a pattern of dishonesty, whether to yourself or others, it will erode your sense of self-respect. It is also important not to make judgmental statements here. Try to be be brave as well instead of acting helpless, even when you feel scared or insecure.

What is the DBT FAST Skill Used For?

The DBT FAST skill is used for interacting with others in an effective way. Anybody can use it to communicate more effectively and improve their relationships. The DBT FAST skill can be used in various situations, including negotiations with family, friends, and colleagues. You can also use this skill to express your needs and desires, resolve conflicts, and improve your relationships.

Examples of Using DBT FAST Skills

Here is an example of how to use DBT FAST skills.

Gabby wakes up to discover that her roommate, Monica, is having a party in their shared house. She decides to ask Monica if they can talk. She brings her into a separate room to avoid any potential embarrassment.

Gabby says, “I didn’t know you were inviting some guests over. Unfortunately, I have to wake up really early for my internship tomorrow, and I need to sleep early. Is there a way you could maybe take the party somewhere else? Or maybe you have some ideas on how we can both get what we need tonight.”

In the ideal situation, Monica would call it a night and ask her guests to leave soon after she has the conversation with Gabby. However, in this situation she says, “Stop being so sensitive. Just chill out and fall asleep to some music, we’re not that loud.” Since this is the case, it is important to validate and then get back to the DBT FAST Skills. If you start to feel really upset, then you can also use DBT STOP distress tolerance skill.

Instead of giving up or aggressively fighting back, Gabby says, “I do understand that you invited everybody here and it really sucks that I’m calling it an early night (VALIDATION). I’d really want to fall asleep to my own music or some background noise, but I just can’t. Could we turn down the music a bit and let your friends know that I have my internship early tomorrow? I would really appreciate it.”

Here, we see Gabby sticking to her values while being truthful to her roommate. She is not over-apologizing, which can be a challenge when you are requesting something. This gives her statement more confidence and shows that she is being fair to her roommate and herself. Even if the situation doesn’t go Gabby’s way, she still tried to resolve it with skill, confidence, and self-respect.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining self-respect is essential to our well-being. Having respect for ourselves ensures that we can work through challenges, maintain our emotional health, and build resilience in life. Self-respect can also teach us a thing or two about self-esteem and self-love. By practicing DBT FAST, you can learn how to treat yourself and others with respect. This skill also goes hand in hand with DBT emotion regulation skills for better interpersonal relationships. Feel free to use our DBT worksheets to learn more about FAST and other skills.

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